Cosplay: Mugen (in process)

mugen banner

mugen-outline.jpgAnime North 2007 is less than four weeks away and I’m very close to completing my costume. This year, I’m going as Mugen (pictured right) the breakdance-fighting, wise-ass, ex-pirate from Shinichiro Watanabe‘s fabulous 2004 anime Samurai Champloo.

I choose this character for two reasons: I really like him and his outfit is simple. In cosplay terms, however, simple is relative.

mugen sandlesThere was very little I could just buy as is for this costume. In fact, the only item that hasn’t been adapted in some way are the geta sandals. These I ordered online from Japan and are huge and easy to wear and I love them. They will add a touch of authenticity lost when cosplayers doing this character wear regular thong sandals.

mugen earringsThe next two items I was able to purchase but required a bit of reworking. The earrings were easy – just had to buy the elements at a bead shop and put them together. The sword was a lot more time intensive.

mugen swordMugen’s sword doesn’t exist. [at the time of making the costume, I didn’t think it existed, but check the comments on this post for a link to buy your own!]

As far as I can tell, the character designers took a traditional Chinese Tai Chi sword and added the hilt of a sai (which is Okinawan in origin, just like Mugen). So I decided to do the same thing. I bought a replica sword in Chinatown and took it apart, separating the hilt from the blade, which came apart into its constituent pommel, grip and guard parts. I then took a plastic sai and sliced off just the curvy guard, primed and painted it gold. That part slid perfectly onto my replica sword. I then took the wooden grip (which was dark brown), sanded it down, primed and painted it white with the gold design. Miraculously, the whole thing fit back together, and looks damn fine. My only regret is that the hilt is so short (Mugen’s sword has a grip at least twice as long).

That left the costume itself: shorts, shirt, jacket and sword sash. You can’t buy this costume (at least not in Canada) so it had to be made from scratch. Sadly, the last time I ever sowed anything was a denim tool-belt I made for my dad in grade 8. And that was with A LOT of help from my home economics teacher. So I – a 35 year old man – took what little dignity I have, tucked it into my back pocket and called my mom.

wearing first cutLaugh all you want, but my mom is a trained seamstress and is very good at making clothes. In fact, she was especially excited about this costume because there is no pattern and she’d have to make it up. And incredibly, in all our shopping and sewing sessions, she only once asked me about my motives. When I explained I’d be doing a piece for CBC Radio about cosplay, she took that as a legitimate reason for her grown son to be playing dress up.

I also decided I wasn’t just going to hand over the design and come back a few weeks later for the finished product. I have participated as much as I can, learning a lot about dressmaking in the process. The image at the top of this post, for instance, was one my mom’s brilliant ideas on how to make the sash. She had me trace it out on paper, draw on the zig zag pattern, then number and cut out the triangles. She will then use these paper triangles as a guide to build the sash.

hammering eyeletsI also tried to do as much as I could on the shirt. That’s me hammering eyelets into the front of the shirt that I later threaded with black string.

There’s only a few hems left to sew and in a couple of weeks I’ll be posting shots of the full costume…

The costume is now complete – check it out!

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12 comments so far

  1. Lippo on

    How do I order a denim tool-belt?

  2. les on

    Hey, great costume! Let me know if you ever need anything from over here, eh.

  3. Erin on

    Hey! Awesome work on the sword and earrings (and the costume overall).

    Do you have instructions on what you bought, and how, you made the earrings? I’m crossplaying as Mugen for a convention in August, and I just can’t seem to get the earrings right. Any help from you would be awesome!

  4. Gandhi on
  5. Enishi on

    This would probably be a help, or more of a novelty, but look what I found:
    http://www.trueswords.com/typhoon-swell-anime-samurai-sword-p-3384.html

  6. vagabond on

    the sword…i found it online…
    http://www.trueswords.com

  7. Daniel on

    dude i found Mugens EXACT sword on trueswords.com, im serious the only difference is the lack of blood stains and accurate shoulder strap! lol. it put me back a mere sixty bucks took only two days to deliver and was very sturdy and light weight

  8. Spidey on

    Hey my name is Joe and im working on a Mugen cosplay as well now. And I do in fact purchased his replica sword but I afraid I wouldnt be able to use it at a convention because its made out of steel. Also when I put it on the harness it slides all over the place. Could you go over one more time how you did make his sword please? It would be greatly appriciated.

  9. Spidey on

    Oh and sorry I forgot to say… Great job on the costume. And kudos for your mom for helping out.

  10. Dr.Mugen on

    Your info was really useful, i was kind of curious on how I was gonna make the Mugen sword. Actually all of it is awesome. Thanks man, I’ve been wanting to cosplay this guy for years now.

  11. Viral720 on

    Your costume is really amazing. And i was wondering if you could help me out. For the first time ever i am going to an anime convention and i am trying to play mugen. I have just two questions for you. One where did you get your geta, and two did you just buy a cheap plastic sai and cut it apart, the sword and the shoes seem to be my hardest part

  12. James Thompson on

    I was wondering what type of fabric you used for the clothing (the pants, shirt, overshirt, and the sword sash).


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